One duck left

Several days ago, two of the three drakes in my brood of four left the pond for good, and yesterday the mother and other drake flew the coop. That leaves me with one duck—the lonely (and lately bullied) hen. The good news is that I can feed her without worrying about the others beating her up or chasing her away. But she seems wary and, I suspect, is lonely and bereft. Sometimes she emits a mournful quack that breaks my heart.

I sort of hope she’ll fly away soon and find some friends, but I’ll miss her. After all, she’s made largely of the oatmeal, peas, corn, mealworms, and Cheerios I gave her since she was a yellow fluffball at the end of May. I’m glad, though, that all four ducklings have made it.

Here she is, alone except for the ubiquitous red-eared sliders, who have learned to follow her around to nab the food that sinks too deep for her to dabble:


  1. Randy schenck
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    There are a group of ducks here that seem to have different results. All the grown little ones still hang with mom and don’t seem to be going anywhere. Pretty sure these are local ducks and stay all year round so maybe they act different.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 25, 2017 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      Variation – the raw material of evolution. It’s not just anatomy that varies, but behaviour too.

  2. Posted July 23, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Very touching, PCC(E). Big hug for all your efforts.

    Any news for us on the gazillion cats book?

  3. Posted July 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Awww…Jerry, you have a kind heart!!! I absolutely LOVE ducks…so glad you adopted this little duckie to take care of until she’s ready to fly off to begin her adventure. Warm fuzzies ooozing over this post!!!!

    • nwalsh
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Stole my thoughts. You have a warm heart Jerry.

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t take Three Dog Night to know that one is the loneliest number.

  5. Mark R.
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Good on you Jerry for your humane efforts. I know you’ll let us know when she (hopefully) flies away.

    Turtles are smart about where their food comes from. When my turtles see me, they come swimming over, anticipating the raining noms.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      I find tortoises are curious. The one I had once got out and walked down the street to check out construction.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Are they migratory?

    • Posted July 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      They all leave the pond about this time of year; this is the northern limit of their “year round” range but I’ve never seen mallards in Chicago in winter,

      • Hempenstein
        Posted July 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        Thx. I used to see what looked just like US mallards in Stockholm but never knew if they were the same species. But looking just now, indeed, it appears that they’re your basic Northern Hemisphere duck. Per the range map in this link (others differ), if they made it that close to the equator, wonder why they never made it into the Southern Hemisphere?

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted July 23, 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

          Geologic barrier. Mallards nest in the northern climes. They won’t cross the equator because it’s too hot. They’ve been introduced into New Zealand and probably other places in the souther hemisphere.

  7. Stephen Barnard
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    The Gadwall family I’ve been following has broken up into individuals, so my count (which stands at nine) is concluded.

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Do those sliders stay in the pond even in winter? They aren’t native to this area AFAIK so I figured they’d freeze.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      I think they just dig into the bottom mud and hold their breath.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes, sliders can survive beneath a frozen pond. Their metabolism essentially stops. Though I’ve read manuals on keeping sliders that it isn’t advisable to let the pond completely freeze. Providing a bubbler or something that provides water agitation like a fountain or waterfall can keep the pond from completely freezing over. Though I don’t know if that would work in a Chicago winter.

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad she has some friends in the slider, and she isn’t being bullied anymore.

  10. David Duncan
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Will they all come back to this pond next season, or do they find somewhere new? Would they remember each other?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 25, 2017 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      For this, leg rings were invented.
      Actually, I take it back ; for this sort of question (identity, localisation), bill-nicking was invented. Transmuting that into ringing legs probably mutated from messenger pigeon technologies well established by the Napoleonic Wars.

  11. Posted July 24, 2017 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Echoing, “good on you Jerry!”

  12. chrism
    Posted July 24, 2017 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    I hope she’s not been reading Lorenz – you might have a dependent for life!
    Incidentally, I had to brake hard and stop to let a painted turtle cross the road last week. Never had that happen before in Nova Scotia!

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 24, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    A happy time!

    The title suggested to me, from when the post went through til now, a grim turn of events, and I made a mental note to comment appropriately- but now am happy to see this story’s true nature.

    I never commented til now but have enjoyed following the story.


  14. Phil Rounds
    Posted July 24, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Perhaps she’ll find a mate and start a new family with your pond as home.

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